GCSE REVISION GUIDE: French. By Sue Clarke, Anna Lise Gordon and Harriette Lanzer. Mary Glasgow Publications. pound;42
ENCORE TRICOLORE: Revision Handbook for GCSE French. By Sylvia Honnor and Heather Mascie-Taylor. Nelson. pound;10.99 plus VAT
Both publications are accompanied by cassettes.
The 1997 GCSE Short Course exams gave some indication of the content of the new-style papers that students face this summer, but the fact is that most people are still in the dark about the new GCSE and its level of difficulty. It is probably wise therefore that these publications make few claims to reproduce exactly the format of the new exam.
The Mary Glasgow GCSE Revision Guide is designed to accompany Camarades 4, but could be used independently. In the form of photocopiable worksheets, it is clearly set out with not too many tasks on the page. All four skill areas (ecouter, parler, lire, ecrire) are practised across 15 topics with several pages of differentiated activities and a vocabulary section for each topic. Advice is in English, but apart from this most of the text is in French, although where exam boards set tasks in English these are included.
The cassette is essential, with a transcript to help pupils using the book at home. Surprisingly there is no grammar section, although if the book is used alongside Camarades this will not be a problem. Some account has been taken of the expose element of the speaking test, but more input will be needed to get even foundation candidates up to scratch. More practice in using picture cues and in understanding exam rubrics would also have been helpful. This is a useful publication - particularly for foundation candidates.
Predictably, the Encore Tricolore: Revision Handbook seems pitched at more able candidates, although in theory it covers both levels. There is a lot of emphasis on verbs and grammar including lengthy verb tables and a grammar section. Fourteen topics are covered via sections entitled Check your vocabulary, Check your grammar, and then Test yourself, which is the section that most closely corresponds to examination practice. While matching sentences, gap-filling and crosswords help in revising vocabulary some people may feel that at this stage pupils need more substantial practice in the type of question they will encounter in the exam.
Speaking seems to be neglected; the other skills are better served, and again the tape is essential. The section "Aim for a higher grade" stretches more able pupils, particularly in the use of different tenses. The short examination practice section has been well researched and covers the syllabuses of six main boards.
Although undoubtedly a helpful adjunct to Encore Tricolore 4, the handbook is disappointing in its examination practice. It is not photocopiable, primarily intended to be purchased by students for use at home.